City council candidates discuss Metro proposal, annexation at forum

by Taylor Villanueva 0

Santa Clarita- With the Santa Clarita Valley City Council election approaching, candidates met Saturday at SCVTV Studios in Newhall to answer community concerns and local issues.

Twelve of the thirteen candidates running in the April 8 election participated in the forum. The candidates hope to fill a vacant seat on the city council left by Frank Ferry.

The candidates forum was divided into two panels, the first of which included Dante Acosta, Alan Ferdman, Moazzem H. Chowdhurry, Dennis Conn, Laurene Weste and Sandra L. Bull. The second group of panelists included Duane Harte, Stephen P. Daniels, Maria Gutzeit, Gloria Mercado-Fortine, Berta Gonzalez-Harper and Marsha McLean. Paul J. Wieczorek, the 13th candidate, was unable to attend.

Questions for the forum were provided by local journalists from The Santa Clarita Valley Signal, KHTS AM-1220 and COC Cougar News.

One of the topics discussed at the candidates forum was regarding the city’s billboard proposal with Metro, which if implemented would rid of all billboards in the SCV and replace them with three electronic billboards on city-owned property.

While some of the candidates were in between on this issue, Alan Ferdman’s choice was clear.

“The answer is just say no,” Ferdman said. “The city should not be in competition with small local businesses- they should be helping them.”

The proposed electronic billboards would turn part of the Santa Clarita Valley into a “Los Vegas style strip,” according to Ferdman.

While candidate Dante Acosta believes the billboard proposal would beautify the city, he agrees that “we need to protect small businesses” that would suffer from the lack of billboard advertisements.

Duane Harte also expressed his concerns on the matter.

“Many people believe Santa Clarita doesn’t need the blight and I agree with that,” Harte said. “But this should be two separate issues.”

These two issues are the beautification of Santa Clarita and the impact of the new billboards on small businesses, according to Harte.

Regardless of the outcome of the billboard proposal, the candidates agreed it is in their concern to assist small businesses with newly implemented marketing techniques.

As a twist to the candidates, former councilmember Frank Ferry presented his own question during the forum via video.

“If the city was considering the annexation of Stevenson Ranch and Westridge, would you support it?” Ferry asked of the candidates.

Although the candidates agreed that the annexation of any area west of Santa Clarita would be welcome, some doubted that those residents would want to become part of the SCV.

“I love it, but would people west of Santa Clarita love it?” Stephen P. Daniels questioned about the proposed annexation.

If there were to be an annexation, a change in the current local government structure would be advised, as the city might want to “at least add another council person,” Daniels said.

The full city council candidates forums will soon be available on SCVTV.com

For more information on the April 8 election, log on to VoteSantaClarita.com.

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